North American Guqin Association


Chinese poetry through the guqin: a practical tool to learn Chinese language and culture

Dear Qin Friends,

Confucius said: “To educate somebody, you should start with poetry, emphasize ritual, and finish with music”. NAGA has developed a series new class that will combine poetry and music with guqin study and aims to deepen the appreciation of Chinese poetry and guqin culture through the exploration of guqin songs.  It is designed for complete beginners and experienced players alike.

It will start Saturday, Novermber 3rd, 2012 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Space is limited so please register now.

Courses objectives

Students will not only learn how to play the guqin and sing poems by famous poets from different Chinese dynasties, but also will learn standard Mandarin through these poems. This course will provide a practical, interdisciplinary approach to the study of Chinese language and culture.

About 3000 pieces of guqin music have been handed down from past dynasties, of which about a third contain lyrics. However because the guqin has become an endangered instrument, they are unknown to most people. This course therefore also aims to preserve and promote guqin music and the singing of guqin songs. 

At the end of the course, students will be able to sing at least five famous Chinese poems while playing the guqin, and will have a broad appreciation of Chinese culture.

Course description

Topics covered include:

­      systematic coverage of guqin playing and performance techniques

­      guqin history, tradition, theory, handbooks, and repertory

­      the use of singing to enhance guqin playing and of guqin playing to enhance singing

­      the historical background of the poems, authentic diction of the song texts, pronunciation of classical poetry, recitation and singing, and poetry translation

­      the technique of traditional guqin songs following the method of guqin master Zha Fuxi, which is now almost lost

The classes will consist of lectures and practical sessions, and will include PowerPoint presentations to explain guqin notation, to show music in guqin tablature and staff notation, and to show poems in Chinese characters, Pinyin with tone indications and English translation.

Practical information

Fees and schedules

Please select the appropriate course(s) for your level of experience by course letter (A, B, C, or D) from the schedule below.

_ Class A. 5 weeks, starts 11/3: $400
Experienced students (completed fingering classes) 

_ Class B. 5 weeks, starts 12/29: $400
Experienced students (completed fingering classes) 

_ Class C. 4 days intense fingering class, (class time and hours TBA) : $400

_ Class D. 10 weeks (Class A + Class B) starts : $720
Experienced students (completed fingering classes)

Poems and songs

Students will learn one piece each week as shown in the table below.

(P) indicates primary; (C) indicates alternative for continuing students.

Class A and Class D pieces

Class B, and Class D pieces

长相思 (C mode, 冯延巳) or 春光好(五代和凝)
Forever Longing by Feng Yansi or The Beauty of Spring by He Ning

子夜吴歌(李白) (C) or 黄莺吟 (P)
Midnight Song from Wu by Li Bai (C) or Huangying Yin (P)

送孟浩然之廣陵( 李白) or 竹枝词(刘禹锡)
Farewell to Meng Haoran  at Yellow Crane Terrace by Li Bai or Zhu Zhici by Liu Yuxi

渔歌调(柳宗元) (C) or 长相思 (F mode, 白居易) (P)
Yuge Diao by Liu Zongyuan (C) or Forever Longing by Bai Juyi (P)


Secret Fragrance by Jiang Kui

古怨(姜夔) (C) or春光好(五代和凝) (P)
Gu Yuan by Jian Kui (C) or The Beauty of Spring by He Ning (P)

凤凰台上忆吹箫 ( 李清照)

Memories of Playing a Xiao on the Phoenix Terrace by Li Qingzhao

八声甘州(柳永) (C) or凤凰台上忆吹箫( 李清照) (P)
Basheng Ganzhou by Liu Yong (C) or
Memories of Playing a Xiao on the Phoenix Terrace (P)

胡笳十八拍(第一拍) ( 蔡文姬)

Eighteen Stanzas on the Barbarian Reedpipe (first section) by Cai Wenji

胡笳十八拍(第二拍) (C) ((第一拍) (P)
Eighteen Stanzas on the Barbarian Reedpipe by Cai Wenji (second section) (C); (first section) (P)


Union City, CA. Address to be announced after registration. Accessible by public transportation.

Class size

Because we intend to run a beginner-friendly group using a traditional teaching style, one student per guqin, space is limited.



Instruments can be either rented for the full 10 weeks duration of the course(rental can be credited towards the purchase of a qin) or purchased from the teacher.

Chinese music specialist and NAGA class sponsor will provide discounts for students enrolled in the 10 week class, with prices of guqins starting from only $399 (please see the description of each model recommended for students enrolled in this class).

Good guqins will be provided for use during the classes, one for each student. Students do not need to bring their own instruments.



Classes will be led by NAGA Director and China Guqin Committee Council member Wang Fei. Wang Fei has a background in classical Chinese literature and guqin music as and has been a Mandarin news host and producer at China National Radio. She studied guqin under Professor Li Xiangting, one of the great guqin master of this century, since 1985. She has inherited the traditions, styles, concepts and masterpieces of her “grand teachers” Zha Fuxi, Wu Jinglue and Guan Pinghu, the three greatest guqin masters of the last century, and transmits them through her guqin teaching, performance and promotion in the western world. Wang Fei is one of the few guqin teachers who offer guqin lessons in traditional form, covering both guqin playing and guqin study. She has won several awards for Chinese music, has toured internationally and has given speeches, lectures, workshops and seminars on the guqin at many prestigious universities including Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA and the Central Conservatory of Music. She has also given presentations on Chinese culture to many Fortune 500 companies.

The number of places is limited, and space is available on a first-come-first-served basis, so please register now! Email registration is highly recommended! Please email your registration form to

Your reservation is not confirmed until NAGA staff contact you and your registration is fully paid. No refunds or exchanges once payment is received. Tuition is non-transferable.

Fill out the registration below and print out along with your payment send to:

North American Guqin Association

PO BOX 7113

Fremont, CA 94537-7113

Please click here for registration form:

For details of any of these classes and to enroll, please email or call 1-866-841-9139 ext.1555.


North American Guqin Association

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